When I first heard that Stuart Craig and director Chris Columbus wanted to use real candles in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” I assumed that they just meant having physical candles hanging above them, but instead of a wick and flame, there would be a light bulb. As it happens, they wanted these candles to be actual candles, with real flames. This was the plan when production started. Unfortunately for them, they seemed to forget that fire burns things. Speaking with the New York Times, Chris Columbus recalled the chaos the candles caused:
“When all the kids file into the Great Hall for the first time, we see hundreds of floating candles in the air. And then something horrible happened — the flames of the candles started to burn through the clear string holding them and started to drop! We had to get everybody out of the set — and then we shot it two more times, telling ourselves, ‘We’re just going to add C.G.I. candles.'”
As much as I love the idea of real candles being used in the Great Hall set, you have to put the safety of your cast — especially a cast of children — first. Granted, Daniel Radcliffe and the kids weren’t too worried. “I’m sure Chris was more stressed out by it, but as a kid, you’re like, ‘This is really funny,'” Radcliffe said to the New York Times, but of course, children have never been the best judge of what is safe. In the end, the CG candles look totally fine, and considering the ceiling of the Great Hall is an ever-changing CG creation, it all fits together. What is most important is what’s on the ground, and the reality Stuart Craig created allows for those digital augmentations to feel just as real.